Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM
NEW FRONTIERS IN ICHNOLOGY USING MLT (MULTISTRIPE LASER TRIANGULATION) AND RAPID PROTOTYPING TECHNOLOGY FOR THREE-DIMENSIONAL ANALYSIS, PRINTING, AND SHARING OF MODERN AND ANCIENT TRACES WITH OTHER ICHNOPHILES
Low-cost multistripe laser triangulation (MLT) scanners, three-dimensional (3D) editing software, and rapid prototyping printers provide new and exciting frontiers in field and experimental ichnology. These tools can be used in neo- and paleoichnological research to enhance the information garnered from modern and ancient 3D endogenic and exogenic traces collected, scanned, or cast in the field, as well as traces created and cast in laboratory experimental enclosures. The MLT scanner-software package can improve existing ichnological techniques and analytical methods, including developing new semiquantitative and quantitative measures to assess morphology. Stereo pairs and anaglyph images, as well as animations of digital models showing 360° views of traces, can be created from screen captures of digital models rotated precisely about vertical axes. The 3D editing software can produce views of cross-sectional profiles of traces without cutting of actual specimens. 3D printing or solid freeform fabrication (SFF) is used to build physical, 3D models of microbial, plant, and animal traces, and it has been used extensively in engineering disciplines, architecture, and art. This SFF technique fabricates physical objects from 3D data files by laying down successive layers of model material—durable ABS plastic—gradually building up the object. The 3D printer used has a build space of 20.3 × 15.2 × 15.2 cm. Printed models are durable, strong, and lightweight. The 3D printer software can scale objects to fit within the print area. For example, large objects that do not fit within the build space can be scaled down to create smaller replicas of the objects. Small traces, several centimeters in length, width, and height, can be scaled up to enhance difficult-to-see surficial morphology. This technology is significant as specimens of all shapes, sizes, collectability, and abundance can be shared with colleagues, university and museum collections, and K-12 educational institutions around the globe. Digitized models and anaglyphs can be posted on websites for use and download. Models of casts from modern endogenic traces provide a facsimile of negative space unobservable in the field. Tangible models allow visually impaired students to learn about an aspect of nature and animal behavior previously unknown to them.